10 standouts at Best of West


By Jed Stotsenberg

The boys’ high school volleyball season got into full swing this weekend at the 6th Annual Best of the West boys' high school volleyball tournament in San Diego, Calif. The tournament was a true showcase of what to expect from the top teams for the 2012 season. Click here to browse our gallery of 215 photos.

Here are 10 players who stood out this weekend:

Andrew Benz | Esperanza (Anaheim, Calif.)

The 6-foot-6 senior middle was dominating, up early and crushing the angles all tournament while also taking over with his block. Benz is committed to UC Irvine.

Michael Mullahey | Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.)

The 6-5 senior setter was a man among boys, delivering the offense and helping Loyola win the Best of the West title. Mullahey picked apart his opponents' block, isolating hitters all tournament while doing his fair share point scoring with a solid block and deceptive dumps. Mullahey will be a Trojan next year contributing to a strong USC volleyball program.

Kyle Palmer | Servite (Anaheim, Calif.)

The 6-7 senior middle was a huge part of his team pulling off numerous upsets. Servite started as the 12 seed and advanced through to the finals. All tournament he was a horse, getting up big and bombing the angles while completely neutralizing the opponents' offense with his block. Palmer is committed to UCLA.

Edgar Palos | Huntington Beach (Calif.)

This 6-foot senior outside hitter gets it done, bringing solid serve receive, smooth controlled defense, high and hard swings while scoring big with his jump serve. He is fun to watch. Palos is committed to Long Beach State.

Nick Porterfield | Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.)

The 6-3 senior outside hitter set himself apart from the pack, earning the Best of the West MVP and helping his team win the tournament. All weekend he passed well and abused his opponents' right-side block with true hitting range and thunder. Porterfield will be attending UCLA next year.

Kevin Rakestraw | Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, Calif.)

This 6-11 junior middle is not just big but athletic. He can run a plethora of attacks all along the net, including a back slide that was almost impossible to stop. As a blocker, he is efficient closing laterally, which is rare for players his size at this age. Rakestraw is uncommitted and will have his choice of top college programs to choose from when he's ready.

Jonah Seif | Thousand Oaks (Calif.)

This 6-8 senior setter is a point scoring machine, shutting down the left-side attack with his block and picking off passers at will with his jump serve. He also was quick to the ball and ran a solid offense, feeding his middles as much as possible and isolating his pins. Seif is committed to UCSB next year.

Larry Tuileta | Punahou (Honolulu, Hawaii)

The 6-2 sophomore outside hitter was on fire, helping his team to a third-place finish with solid passing and phenomenal defense. One of the top plays of the weekend was a full-speed hit he took off his chest in the semifinal against Loyola that carried over the net and landed left back over the whole team without anybody touching it to tie the game. Offensively he has an extremely high volleyball IQ, bringing out not only the heat but the tips, chops and swipes, which embarrassed opponents' defensive systems all tournament. Tuileta is uncommitted but will have many opportunities to play at the next level.

Brooks Varni | Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.)

The 6-2 senior libero was spectacular and a true leader. He passed well all weekend, set in transition off the setter dig, took 75 percent of the court on free balls, dug balls and provided fire with confidence for his team when needed. Varni is committed to USC next year.

Lucas Yoder | San Clemente (Calif.)

This 6-4 junior outside hitter put in some serious work helping his team to a third-place finish. He passed with precision, brought the heat on the left and out of the back row while competing hard the whole time. He has yet to choose college.

Other notables

Bennett Bird, Westview (San Diego, Calif.), 12, 6-6, OH, BYU

Gabriel Vega, Iolani (Honolulu, Hawaii), 12, 6-7, OH, Stanford

Justin Parks, Oak Park (Calif), 12, 6-4, OH, Pepperdine

Kyle Suppes, Bellarmine (San Jose, Calif.), 12, 6-8, MB, Pepperdine

Parker Boehle, Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.), 12, 5-8, LIB, UCSB

Alex Slaught, Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.), 12, 6-4, OH, USC

Driss Guessous, Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.), 12, 6-7, MB, Ohio State

Sam Hunt, Servite (Anaheim, Calif.), 12, 6-6, MB , Air Force Football

Sean Gruebner, Punahou (Honolulu, Hawaii), 12, 6-2, OH, Uncommitted

Jack Yoder, San Clemente (Calif.), 11, 6-3 ,S Unsigned

Aidan Crockett, Bellarmine (San Jose, Calif.),, 12, 6-3, OH, Ohio State

Parker Brown, Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, Calif.), 12, 6-3, OH Ohio State

Jacob Delson, Westlake (Westlake Village, Calif.), 12, 6-5, OH, UCSB

Zack Gates, Huntington Beach (Calif.), 11, 6-6, Opp, Unsigned

Cole Fiers, Palos Verdes (Calif.), 11, 6-3, S, Uncommitted

Jack Hughson, Poway, 12, 6-6, S/RS, UCLA

Darren Sorrell, Esperanza (Anaheim, Calif.), 12, 6-9, MB, Hawaii

Madison Hayden, Servite (Anaheim, Calif.), 12, 6-3, OH, Stanford

Tim Favreau, Servite (Anaheim, Calif.), 12, 6-1, S, Princeton